Jeff Hartwig Talks Pole Vaulting


by Jon Hendershott

 

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Jeff Hartwig’s pole vault career started out rather modestly, but before he was done he had climbed all the way to the top of the T&FN World Rankings.

The Missouri native began vaulting in ’82 at age 14, reaching all of 9-6 (2.89), but by his senior season at Arkansas State in ’90, he had improved to 17-8½ (5.70).

Still, he didn’t earn his first U.S. Ranking position until ’95, at the relatively advanced age of 27 and it took another three years before he cracked the world’s top 10.

But as the following chart shows, he then rated every season until he retired after the ’08 campaign. During his 14-year stay in the U.S. Rankings, he spent half of them in the World Top 10 as well, rating No. 1 globally in ’02. [continued after chart]

 

Jeff Hartwig’s Career Progression
Year Age Height World/U.S. Rank
1982 14 2.89 | 9-6 x, x
1983 15 3.36 | 11-0 x, x
1984 16 3.81 | 12-6 x, x
1975 17 4.42 | 14-6 x, x
1986 18 4.57 | 15-0 x, x
1987 19 4.90 | 16-1 x, x
1988 20 5.10 | 16-9 x, x
1989 21 5.34 | 17-6¼ x, x
1990 22 5.40 | 17-8½ x, x
1991 23 5.35 | 17-6½ x, x
1992 24 5.50 | 18-½ x, x
1993 25 5.35 | 17-6½ x, x
1994 26 5.63 | 18-5½ x, x
1995 27 5.72 | 18-9¼ x, 8
1996 28 5.80 | 19-¼ x, 4
1997 29 5.85 | 19-2¼ x, 5
1998 30 6.01 | 19-8½ 2, 1
1999 31 6.02 | 19-9 2, 1
2000 32 6.03 | 19-9¼ 3, 2
2001 33 5.90 | 19-4¼ 2, 1
2002 34 6.00 | 19-8¼ 1, 1
2003 35 5.80 | 19-¼ 9, 2
2004 36 5.88 | 19-3½ 10, 4
2005 37 5.65 | 18-10¾ x, 6
2006 38 5.85 | 19-2¼ x, 4
2007 39 5.85 | 19-2¼ x, 2
2008 40 5.71 | 18-8¾ x, 3

 

Now a month past birthday No. 43, Hartwig has seen a lot of vaulting in his two decades with the planet’s fiberglass elite.

In a long and remarkable talk with T&FN that will be serialized here over the next couple of weeks, he shared his observations on his favorite event, now viewing things through his work as a globetrotting athletes’ agent:

I probably traveled more in ’09 than I did as an athlete because I was working between meets. But this past summer, for the first time since ’95, I actually stayed home and didn’t go to Europe.

The biggest thing was, because of the new Diamond League that had pretty tight restrictions on the number of athletes they allowed per event, my group of athletes in Europe was spread pretty thin. And I had a couple of notables who were inactive—like Kristin Heaston, who was recovering from knee surgery—and Amy Acuff retired.

Suzy Powell planned to compete this past season, but then indoors she got an injury that took a lot longer to heal than she anticipated. She is regrouping right now, but certainly isn’t done. She plans to go through 2012 and still has some good days ahead of her.

So not having those athletes, as well as it being a non-championships year, I ended up not having a large group of athletes in any one event area. So I decided to stay home and try to relax a little bit, because if I had gone to Europe, I probably would have set myself up in a base location and operated out of there. But I felt I could do that from home too.

Part 2: What sets Steve Hooker apart as the world’s best men’s vaulter

Part 3: Talking about Yelena Isinbaeva's X-factor

Part 4: Hartwig analyzes Brad Walker & Derek Miles

Part 5: The long and short of vaulting with Jeremy Scott & Scott Roth

Part 6: NCAA champions Jordan Scott & Jason Colwick

Part 7: Reigning national champs Mark Hollis & Tim Mack

Part 8: Leading U.S. women Jenn Suhr & Chelsea Johnson

Part 9: More U.S. women: Lacy Janson, Becky Holliday & Kylie Hutson

Part 10: On being "comfortable in your own shoes"

 

11/27/10

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